Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Importance of Being Connected

Is it important to be a connected educator?

When I think about being a "connected educator" I believe there are many different types of being connected. Yes, without a doubt, it is important to be connected. If we are not connected, if we close our doors, then students will only be taught what we are able to teach them from our own resources. Why would I ever want to limit the amount that my students learn?

I know I'm no expert in being connected, but I learned a lot this week about how teachers can become connected. There are many resources available online to grow our personal learning networks. Mentioned in Chapter 2 of Personal Learning Networks (Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011), are the following: Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, Diigo, and of course Blogger. Before reading this chapter, I felt that Twitter was the go-to tool for connecting with other professionals. I am glad that I was able to expand my knowledge base with learning about tools like Diigo, that save and share favorite bookmarks. All of the sharing can really be beneficial for teachers' and students' learning. With one quick search on PLNs, I was able to find numerous websites and articles centered on the topic. (Link to Diigo search:

Now that I know the tools, I just have to make a mental reminder to start using them on a regular basis. I think this is one of the most challenging parts of being a connected educator - staying connected. I just have to remember to be motivated to find these tools and share within them. I found the ladder analogy in our reading interesting. Sometimes, I can be totally into connecting and sharing, while other times, I feel I just don't have the time. But, like it was also stated in our reading, it's all about balance, finding the time to connect. I know this is important and if I want my students to be successful in their educational paths, I need to make this a priority in my own learning path!

Richardson, Will, and Rob Mancabelli. "Chapter 2: Becoming a Networked Leader." Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree, 2011. N. pag. Print.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Self Assessment

Where am I as a connected educator?

After just one week of our class, I already feel like I have learned a lot more about what it means to be connected. Before taking the class, I thought personal learning networks (PLN) were mostly on Twitter and that they looked like a lot of work to maintain, and that it was mostly for professionals. After just our first twitter chat, I am starting to see the true value of a PLN. These communities give teachers an opportunity to grow in the number of resources, connections, and authentic learning for students.

For my self assessment, I would say I am just in the beginning phase of being connected. I do feel I have grown from just my first year teaching to this year. I now tend to share a lot of what students create on twitter. I follow other teachers who are very talented and I love seeing the work they share. I have also just started to make some community connections this year and worked a little with experts for students to get experience in working with. I know there is a lot more I could be doing, and I know this class will help me gain the confidence and knowledge on how to improve and utilize my PLN.

My goal is to eventually make it so that it is second nature to join a twitter chat, reach out to other teachers in my field, and even collaborate for a project across schools! Before I do that, I hope to reach out within my own school building more than I am now. It can become a bit hectic during the school year, and it is sometimes very difficult for me to even branch out from my room. But I do see value in connection and I know working with different subjects and teams of teachers can really benefit all of our students.

Another goal of my is for my students to start becoming connected. Just from reading the first chapter in Personal Learning Networks, by Will Richardson and Rob Mancabelli, I am seeing that we, as educators, need to rethink how students are going to be successful in the 21st Century. They don't need to do well on tests and get good grades to be a success. They need to know how to make connections in the "real world" and know how and what to do with those connections. I think this makes sense to me, because being a young teacher, I feel like I am pretty "with it" in terms of social media, but these middle school kids have me beat! If students today use social media like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat as much as they breathe, I really want to challenge myself to bring that into the classroom.